Draken International has signed an agreement with the New Zealand government to purchase eight Douglas A-4K Skyhawk strike fighters formerly used by the Royal new Zealand Air Force. Draken has already received the necessary approval from the US State Department and expects to have the aircraft operational by the first quarter of 2013. In the 1990s these planes formed the New Zealand strike force. They flew until 2001, when the unit was disbanded and its aircraft put for sale.
Draken plans to refurbish the aircraft, to be operated in support of US Department of Defense training initiatives. According to Draken, the aircraft bring unique capabilities to the Contract Air Services (CAS) industry, with features such as an APG-66 radar, Heads-up-Display, HOTAS, Multi-Function Display and the NATO standard 1553 bus.
The aircraft will operate up to 6 buddy-store aerial refueling systems, formerly used by the US Marine Corps and Navy. The refueling system will support long-range Draken fleet deployments as well as provide tanker support to other probe equipped aircraft. Given these capabilities, providing realistic training and threat simulation environments for a variety of roles including Air-to-Air, “Red Air,” Air to Ground, JTAC/CAS, aerial refueling, research and other mission sets that demand the latest in aircraft technology.
According to Draken International CEO Jared Isaacman these Skyhawks Draken acquired represent the final and most capable evolution of the A-4 platform. “We are all very confident in the long-term supportability, advanced avionics capabilities and economic efficiencies these aircraft will bring to the Department of Defense and the overall defense contracting industry.” Isaacman said. Draken also obtained over 20 spare J-52 jet engines and the entire inventory of spare parts stored in the NZ, along wit the associated maintenance gear that came with the aircraft. Draken also managed to get two flight simulators for cockpit procedural training and nav/attack system familiarization formerly used by the NZ pilots.
Draken International already operates |A-4N formerly used by the US Navy. Draken is a provider of contract air services based out of the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, FL. Providing contract air services, the organization sets a new standard in airborne adversary support, flight training, threat simulation, electronic warfare support, aerial refueling, research, testing, as well as other missions uniquely suited to their fleet of aircraft.
Aging aircraft are increasingly used in training services, including the Israeli IAI Kfir, Northrop F-5 and Hawker Hunter and Swedish Saab Draken to name a few. The Duglas A-4 (this plane was produced before the Douglas Aircraft Company merged with McDonnell Aircraft, later becoming Boeing…) is also operational with few air forces, including the Brazilian Navy and Argentinian Air Force. The Israel Air Force is using the A-4N for lead in training, and expects to phase out these planes in 2014, as it receives the first Italian Alenia Aermacchi M346 trainers.